The exoteric path in contemporary Islam is composed of moderates and outnumbers the esoteric path of the radicals but still stands hijacked by nascent Islamic radicalism. Islam is typically perceived as one, whole and uniformly practiced religion but reality belies this simplified disposition. The paths of exoteric and esoteric Islam are well differentiated and this paper seeks to discuss the major differences between both. The largest difference between the exoteric Muslims and the esoteric Muslims is their attitude towards the propagation of religion. The esoteric Muslims see Islam as the ultimate solution for mankind and believe that it their responsibility to enforce Islam around the globe. Such quarters see Islam as the final solution for every problem that mankind faces ranging from emotional problems to population control. Sayyid Qutb, one of the founding fathers of modern radical Islam argues in his text Milestones (Qutb 57): “... annihilate all those political and material powers which stand between people and Islam ...” In contrast, the original teachings of Islam are far more peaceful and refrains the believer from imposing his version of religion on the other person, whether Muslim or non Muslim. The Prophet of Islam was a staunch believer in religious pluralism including within Islamic realms. The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, has been quoted as saying (Ernst 1045): “Difference of opinion is a mercy for my community.” Additionally, religious pluralism has been favored in the sacred text of Islam, the Quran. The Quran’s second chapter, Al Baqra, declares openly that the believers are not allowed to force other people into their religious fold. Islam has historically relied on preaching through peaceful means including open interaction with non Muslims. The earliest traditions from Islam, including the time when early Muslims were being prosecuted in Makkah, show that forced conversions and the imposition of religious doctrine on other religions was not allowed. The same can be said of the times when the Muslims were in power and had taken control of large swaths of the globe. The reign of Umar is mentionable in this regard. In around a decade Umar was able to expand the Islamic frontiers manifold through armed conflict but again Islam was not imposed on the conquered people (Ahmed 34). Instead, Islam was spread in most of the conquered areas through open interaction with the non Muslims. Even with the existence of evidence to the contrary, today’s radical Islamists are bent upon furthering Islam through violent means. A major problem that Islam faces like other major religions is the loss in translation. Islam was originally revealed in the Arabian Peninsula and the medium of communication and instruction remained Arabic. The Prophet Muhammad was Arab and was not instructed in other languages, so his entire set of instructions for Islam has been preserved in Arabic. Similarly, the Quran was revealed and the scribed in Arabic too. There were initially no problems as to the use of Arabic since the early converts and most of the converts in the Prophet’s own lifetime were Arabs. However, as the Islamic empire began to spread under the Rightly Guided Caliphs, the need for taking up other languages became apparent. It was felt that translating massive works of Quran and Hadith into other languages would abrade the meanings of the original texts. In an effort to
[ your name ] [ ] [ / number ] [Publish Date] The major differences between the exoteric and esoteric path of Islam “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” Quran (2:256) Islam declares itself as a peaceful religion through its various texts and teachings…
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